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La. Republicans grab ‘star power’ at recent GOP conclave held in New Orleans

29th June 2011   ·   1 Comment

By Christopher Tidmore
The Louisiana knd cash loans Weekly

The largest conclave of Repub­licans outside of a national convention occurred in New Orleans June 16-18, and one could not get through any door at the Hilton Riverside Hotel without being handed a Ron Paul push card.

Legions of libertarian leaning university students descended on the Crescent City to tout their pro-Gold Standard, anti-Afghanistan standard-bearer. And, by the strength of their commitment, the Texas Congressman and libertarian GOP Presidential candidate won the convention’s straw poll, with 41 percent of the vote.

The Convention

The 2011 Republican Leadership Conference featured various speakers, including Governors, Senators, state legislators, and authors. It was attended by several candidates, and potential candidates, for President of the United States, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Governor Gary Johnson, Congressman Ron Paul, Governor Rick Perry, former Governor Buddy Roemer and former Senator Rick Santorum.[1] Other speakers at the conference included Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour, and Barack Obama impersonator Reggie Brown.[2]

The main draw at the convention, though, was the straw poll—one of the most prominent of the national “caucuses” prior to the 2012 primaries. Congressman Ron Paul won the straw poll by sixteen points, with Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., who was scheduled to speak at the event but cancelled, placing second at 25 percent. Congresswoman Michele Bach­mann and businessman Herman Cain placed in a close third and fourth at 13 percent and seven percent respectively.

The 2010 winner of the straw poll, Mitt Romney, who spent thousands to win the poll, spent not a dime. Still, he bested many of the other candidates, despite not even attending the convention. With five percent, he bested Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, both of whom who spoke at the RLC. (Buddy Roemer 0.7 percent, just behind the one percent results for Tim Pawlenty and Gary Johnson, and barely ahead of Thad McCotter.)

Conventional delegate and LA Republican State Central Committee member told The Louisiana Weekly, “That Texas Congressman Ron Paul won yet another straw poll is no shock. This is the kind of activity that the Paulistas/Paulistinians (don’t call them Paultards- which has a vile implication) specialize in and with “school out” for the summer, the June conference date was a boon to the college student driven effort.”

“These kids—and they are mostly young people, not that this rogue trader payday loans once 22-year old state GOP committeeman thinks there is anything wrong with that,” Bayham continued, “aren’t hauled in or bribed into going. They foot their own bills beyond the registrations and make sacrifices to travel about the country.”

“Rather than chasing Green Day, U2 or Phish, these whippersnappers are following the most prominent advocate of the Austrian School of Economics. And perhaps breaking some possession laws along the way.”

“The Paulistas should consider making straw poll/concert t-shirts complete with the dates of the conferences they attend.”

There is little doubt that many of the straw votes came from well-meaning young people, but one correspondent for the Weekly interviewed a lady who explained that she had come to the RLC specifically to vote for Ron Paul.

“What is it you like about Ron Paul,” she was asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” the lady replied.”

“So why did you come to vote for the Congressman?”

“Well they said they would pay for me to come to New Orleans and pay for my hotel.”

By several accounts, Ron Paul Campaign paid for at least some votes, by footing the bill for an all expense paid vacation for many delegates. He’s hardly alone. Number two finisher Jon Huntsman did just the same to get his 25 percent.

“Paul wins straw polls but loses delegate elections, badly,” Bayham said.

By all accounts, the Huntsman campaign had no visible presence at all at the conference; but they had one in the straw poll ballot box via, what Bayham called the “wholesale purchase of registrations.”

“The gambit, which I am certain set someone back a lot of money, was intended to have a surprise showing for a candidate with low name recognition. Huntsman did score some favorable press as the second place showing did seem to come out of nowhere but the billionaire ex-Utah Governor/Ambassador to China known for penning flowery effusive letters to President Barack Obama will need more than an orchestrated vote hauling operation to win the Republican nomination.”

What does remain relevant about the Republican Leadership Conference’s straw poll is that it occurred less than a week after the first major debate of the 2012 presidential campaign,

As such, Minnesota Congressw-oman Michele Bachmann’s 191 straw poll votes money and you are also probably “honest” when considering the reception she received by conference attendees and the major boost the plucky Tea Party favorite received from CNN’s New Hampshire Republican presidential debate.

And, the 104 votes earned by Ex-Godfather’s executive Herman Cain, who spent very little on the event beyond having a hospitality suite off-site in a crowded hotel room, came based on true grassroots energy, by all accounts.

Another telling sign, in the wake of the his fiery speech at the RLC, Texas Governor Rick Perry name was on many lips, but not on the straw poll ballot. People asked to vote for him, yet the RLC organizers stated that write-ins were not accepted and would not counted. The policy caused some people in line who wanted to support Perry to become very irate.

Bayham noted, “It would have been interesting to see what support Perry would have received, even as a non-candidate, judging by the enthusiastic reception he received from conference attendees.”

Perhaps the two greatest winners of the two-day conclave, that included a who’s who of the Republican Party, were the men not on the straw poll ballot. The clear victors were the two native son hosts of the event, LA GOP Chairman Roger Villere and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Villere, who was nearly elected Republican National Committee co-chair earlier this year, solidified his growing weight in the party as the Presidential candidates sought the LA Repub. Chair’s advice.

Lastly, the most talked about event at the RLC was Friday night’s “Bayou Bash” hosted by the Louisiana Governor, where Bobby Jindal gave away copies of his new book amidst free food and drink. The delegates were impressed, and it is worth remembering that many who attended will see Jindal at next year’s Republican National Convention. There they can be counted up to generate buzz over the La. Governor serving as the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate.

Jindal undoubtedly hopes the buzz reaches a higher fever pitch. And, in the end, the La. governor spent less on food than Huntsman, and probably Paul, spent on straw poll votes. We’ll know who had the better “winning” strategy by next year.

This article originally published in the June 27, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Melloney says:

    Hey, good to find someone who ageers with me. GMTA.

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